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New Year's Eve Fireworks In Dubai Go On Despite Hotel Fire

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Images of a 63-story building in Dubai make it look like a torch against the sky. The fire struck the Address in downtown Dubai on New Year's Eve in one of the world's glittering cities. Becky Anderson witnessed that fire. She is an anchor for CNN International.

Welcome to the program.

BECKY ANDERSON: Hello Steve.

INSKEEP: What did you see?

ANDERSON: Yeah, smoke's still billowing from what is this luxury hotel in downtown Dubai today as firefighters - or, civil defense squads, as they're known here - continue what is the process of cooling down this smoldering building. It started around 9:30 p.m. local time on New Year's Eve and very quickly took hold, sending flames shooting out the side of this 63-floor building. And all of this as revelers gathered close by to watch what was expected to be a spectacular firework display on the world's tallest building, that being the Burj Khalifa. I was in a hotel close by with a view of the Burj also waiting to see what is considered to be one of the world's best firework displays. And the fire in this hotel complex just blocks away across the main plaza downtown - extremely spectacular. And the Dubai government at this point saying that everyone was safely evacuated from the hotel last night. Only 16 people, they say, were treated for minor injuries, Steve, and smoke inhalation. But clearly an extremely frightening experience for everybody involved, and investigators now working to determine the cause of the fire, which incidentally, is the second major fire to engulf a high-rise in Dubai. In 2005...

INSKEEP: Becky, what did the celebrants do, the New Year's celebrants?

ANDERSON: Well, it was remarkable really. I mean, the roads are being closed down because so many people are expected to be in Dubai, as they are every year for these fireworks on the Burj Khalifa, and then they sort of go - they move around Dubai over a sort of 25-minute period. So there were tens of thousands of people, of course, in the plaza and downtown. I think there was a sort of very subdued mood. I think people just really couldn't believe what was happening. But very, very organized, very well-controlled. Those who were in the building say the evacuation was very organized. As I say, even though people did suffer from smoke inhalation, clearly an extremely frightening experience. As I say, you know - if I say controlled, I mean it in the best possible way. You know, people were sensible. And within sort of hours, even though the fire continued, people were moving around town again.

INSKEEP: All right. Well, Becky Anderson of CNN International, thanks. Good to talk to you. Enjoy your work.

ANDERSON: Thanks Steve.

INSKEEP: She is in Dubai where a fire is still causing smoke to pour out of that building, that 63-story hotel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.